Port Washington resident Janet Lipman frequently finds herself scouring the shelves of Dolphin Bookshop for new books, gifts and, when she brings her nieces and nephews, toys. Dolphin has been a neighborhood fixture since 1946.
“Every town needs a bookstore,” says Lipman, 55, a retired antiques dealer.
Life lately hasn’t been easy at independent bookstores on Long Island. Bookstores across the country have closed in recent years due to the abandonment of physical books. The pandemic has caused scheduled in-person events to be canceled and sent regulars to shop for the latest author publications online, says Robin Appel, director of Dolphin. Less than two years into the pandemic, Huntington Village’s favorite Book Review closed its doors after struggling to pay rent.
But a slow and steady reopening brings light back to their pages, local owners say.
“We have great foot traffic,” says Scott Raulsome, owner of Burton’s Book Store, a mainstay on Greenport’s main thoroughfare since 1979. “We have a very vibrant downtown,” which helps attract business.
Jesse Bartel, manager of BookHampton in East Hampton, says bookstores aren’t on the way out. “At this point, people realize how important bookstores are and realize it’s an impossible experience to have online,” Bartel says. After being stuck at home staring at computer screens, the experience of walking in and touching and seeing books and chatting with booksellers is even more vital than ever, adds Bartel.
“Offering an in-person conversation that gets lost in a very digital world is a great experience,” he says. “Especially these days.”
Here are four independent bookstores to pick up local reads, book lover gifts and more.
Books, games and gifts
Dolphin Bookshop offers the latest bestsellers, classics, coffee table reads and seasonal books. There’s also a great selection of arts and crafts supplies, STEM toys, baby toys, puppets, and baby gift baskets filled with soft books, toys, teethers, and toys. ‘plush animals.
The goal is to have engaging toys, board games and building toys to promote family time, says Holly Magelof, toy buyer for the store.
Dolphin also offers unique candles, lotions, puzzles, adult games and greeting cards.
“We try to have everything that’s a bit unique to us,” says Appel.
INFORMATION: Dolphin Bookshop, 299 Main St., Port Washington, 516-767-2650, thedolphinbookshop.com, Open Monday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Pick a topic, any topic, and you’ll find a book about it at the Burton Bookstore, which focuses on fiction, history, children’s books, cooking, nautical, classics, youth adults and local history books.
“We want a family of four vacationing here to find something,” says Raulsome, adding that you’ll also find plenty of reading on the beach.
Books by local authors and books about North Fork are unique to them, as well as many new releases that you may not find at other bookstores. Burton’s also highlights staff picks, clearly displayed along the ends of the aisles.
Besides books, there is a wide assortment of notebooks, journals, greeting cards, card sets, games, puzzles, art supplies – colored pencils, gel pens, pencils, acrylic paints, chalks and coloring books for adults.
INFORMATION: Burton Bookstore, 43 Front St., Greenport, 631-477-1161, burtonsbooks.com. Open Sunday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
At East Hampton’s BookHampton, there are plenty of signed copies on the shelves and weekly in-person events resume after Memorial Day, including with local authors and authors who have summer homes in the Hamptons.
You’ll also find stationery, cards, puzzles, journals, and traditional board games, like Monopoly and Clue. For children there are plush toys, flash cards and children’s puzzles. “It’s sort of a complete gift shopping situation,” Bartel says.
INFORMATION: BookHampton, 41 Main St., 631-324-4939, bookhampton.com. Open Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Long Island Authors and Artists
The Long Island Authors Group Bookstore only carries books written by authors living on Long Island, says John Krahn, president of the Authors Group.
“We are now 82 strong and growing authors each month,” says Krahn, adding that as a nonprofit, the group sponsors workshops and presentations for the community, including monthly book conferences. by members.
Islip Arts Council holds exhibitions in the space, with all works available for purchase. “Mother Nature”, the exhibition running until June, is a multimedia show produced by women artists.
The store features a gift shop complete with handmade jewelry, photography books, greeting cards, giclee prints, paintings, pottery, glassware, and upcycled clothing made from a variety of materials, including painted jackets and skirts. Everything is done by Long Island artists.
INFORMATION: Islip Arts Council Gallery at Westfield Mall, 170 Sunrise Highway, Bay Shore; 631-888-3525, longislandauthorsgroup.org. Open Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.